NYC Council Repeals Nightclub Dancing Ban

The New York Daily News reports:

You can dance if you want to. A law that has banned dancing at the vast majority of the city’s bars and nightspots for nearly a century was struck down Tuesday by a City Council vote.

The Council voted to repeal the cabaret law, which prohibits dancing without a cabaret license — which fewer than 100 of the 26,000 bars and restaurants in the city have.

Nightlife lovers have gone after the law as archaic, originally motivated by racism, and a burden on business owners who are left scrambling to prevent the merest toe tapping by their patrons or fearing a ticket. The law dates to 1926, when it was put in place to go after Harlem jazz clubs where black and white patrons freely mixed.

The dancing ban has not been aggressively enforced in recent years, but businesses complain fines have been arbitrary and unfairly targeted certain types of music, including hip hop, electronic and Latin music, over others.

I’ve been told that the only New York City gay bars with a cabaret license are the Monster and the Eagle. Maybe a JMG reader knows more?

  • JoeMyGod

    Doesn’t San Francisco still have a similar law in place?

    • Apparently, Oakland had a ban on dance marathons until 2012:

      • TuuxKabin

        Still ‘No no there?’

    • Rex

      Dancing in just a jock strap is banned.
      (Unless it’s in my bedroom.)

      • clay

        Philly has a law that ass crack must be covered by a strip of cloth at least 1 inch wide– no G-strings, no jock straps, no plumber butt. But Philly’s Bike Stop has had an advertised jock strap night for decades with no hassle and Philly Naked Bike Ride has had police support for years. I guess the cops don’t want to have to dig in to see if there’s any fabric in there, and to measure just how much less than one inch wide it is.

        • Joe in PA

          Dang, I was just gonna volunteer to be measure-boy. Hey, someone’s gotta measure those strips.

    • SilasMarner

      A lot of cities have archaic laws on the books. Instead of repealing these laws they pass newer even more stupid laws.

  • FAEN

    Now more than ever-DANCE!

  • Rex

    Do you love me?
    Now that I can dance.

    • TuuxKabin

      Wha’s the name of that song, “And I’ahhhhhahhhhhahhh Will Almost Love You?” Of course I do.

    • JCF

      “Watch me now!”

  • Todd20036

    About damn time. Some of these stupid 100 year old laws need to go

    • SilasMarner

      Even some more recent ones.

    • Rambie

      And the lawmakers who think like the ones 100 years ago

      • TuuxKabin


  • JoeMyGod

    Enforcement was at its recent peak when Giuliani was in office and bouncers would often arrive to stop the festivities if dancing happened to break out at a bar. I only saw that happen a few times during Bloomberg and not once since De Blasio.

    • greenmanTN


      • TuuxKabin

        Ya’ know why neither of those two are circumcised?

        • greenmanTN

          DeBlasio and Dinkins?

          • TuuxKabin

            Ghouliani and DiBlasio. Bloomberg not so much, being Jewish.

    • JoeMyGod

      But even the mere existence of the law during Bloomberg and De Blasio kept nightspots from scheduling dance parties.

  • greenmanTN
    • TuuxKabin

      Is there anything you haven’t done?

      • greenmanTN

        I did used to joke that me dancing looked like David Byrne having an epileptic fit…

        • TuuxKabin

          Or a session of electro shock therapy.

  • OdieDenCO

    denver has a cabaret law but I’ve never seen a boogie woogie bust

  • Joe in PA

    not that i’m likely to be dancing in NYC anytime soon…but cool.

    • TuuxKabin

      Come on up, we’re like beached whales when it comes to dancin’, it’ll be fun.

      • jerry

        So I learned that I’ve broken the law in NYC multiple times…where do I turn myself in?

        • TuuxKabin

          Come back and dance legally.

      • GayOldLady

        I hurt my back a few years ago trying to twerk. It took me a month to admit to Darlin how I’d hurt myself.

        • Joseph Miceli

          Everytime I want to scare the kids at work I threaten to twerk. Straightens them right up!

          • GayOldLady

            I really messed myself up. I had to go to the ortho Doc. Xrays the whole nine yards. He asked me what I did to hurt myself and I told him. He literally laughed out loud. But, I didn’t tell my wife for a month because I knew she would tease me mercilessly and remind me how old I am. Sure enough, when I told her she teased me mercilessly and reminded me how old I am. 🙂

        • Nowhereman

          Twerking makes me want to run away! run away!

    • Strepsi
      • Joe in PA

        One of my favorites, I used to have that (oh geez) on my mix-tape (cassette) for my time on the stair-master at the gym. Damn I’m old. 🙂

  • DaddyRay
    • SilasMarner

      Elaine, you go get it girl! LOL

  • Rex

    Don’t let Jeff Sessions get wind of this, you know he hates anything that makes people happy.

  • Tawreos

    Great! We can dance if we want to.

    • olandp

      I always wanted to do a May Pole, but never have.

      • Joseph Miceli

        I’m glad he’s still working, but that song needs more dwarves.

        • Lane

          “Dwarfs!” — Rapunzel’s Prince

    • HoneyBoySmith
    • paganguy

      “We can go when we want to… Safety Pants, Safety Pants….”

    • Nowhereman

      Thanks! I hear that song all the time, but I’d never seen the video. What fun. I was actually more familiar with Weird Al’s parody “The Brady Bunch” before I heard the original:

    • JCF

      Thanks. You (if you’re of a Certain Age) can’t read Joe’s first line, w/o thinking of this!

      S – A – F – E – T -Y

  • clay

    I’m sure I’ve seen guys dancing at Nowhere in the East Village, and I think Boiler Room and Cock. I know I’ve seen guys dancing at Rock Bar in the West Village.

    • TuuxKabin

      Then they’ve seen you too.

  • kcken

    Concealed carry: Check
    Open Carry: Possibly
    Dancing: Fuck No, YOU ISIS Muslim Terrorist!!!

    • canoebum

      I get the joke, but New York Pistol Regulations separate New York City and Buffalo from the general permitting process, which is fairly strict in itself, and require special permits for those localities. My NYS Pistol Permit is not valid in NYC or Buffalo. To get a pistol permit for NYC requires a demonstrable need, simply wanting to own one won’t cut it.

      • sfbob

        I don’t know about Buffalo but even the driving age is different in NYC from what it is in the rest of the state. I think it actually makes a great deal of sense; wish it were like that in California.

  • gaycuckhubby

    Damn imagine how great CBGBs would have been with dancing

  • Harveyrabbit

    Well, these people on their way to the Lower East Side Amish Bar and Grill don’t like this new decision one little bit.

    • OdieDenCO

      the guy in blue is a radical

      • Rex

        That’s what happens when you don’t set the sun to “hazy” when line drying.

        • Gustav2

          Their ‘black’ die has a base of ‘blue.’

    • Bluto

      Don’t dis the Amish, they’re good, gentle people. They’re also not interfering with govt, our way of life or screaming that we must live by their ideas.

      • TuuxKabin

        They are gentle and sweet as their shoe fly PIE. It’s the puppy mills:

        • Joe in PA

          Shoe fly pie…have you ever tasted that stuff? Blech…we joke that the reason it is called that is because it was created as the ‘sacrificial pie”…let the flies congregate on that pie and save the good pies. Just saying.

          • TuuxKabin

            First and last bite gave me a toothache, I knew I needed a check up.

        • Bluto

          This comes as a surprise. Puppy mills do not fit into their belief system. Goes to show us that every group has assholes.

          • TuuxKabin

            I know. But/and I do enjoy buying from the Amish stand at the farmers’ market twice a week. The men have the strongest, ripped arms. Woof.

          • Joe in PA

            Unfortunately true. 🙁

        • vstill

          There is not a shoe in shoo fly pie.

          • TuuxKabin

            Felt like it.

    • TuuxKabin

      In New York City, where we’re tolerant of your beliefs but judgmental of your shoes.

      • Duh-David

        Me to the doorman at the Mineshaft, “You’re wearing assless chaps and your problem is with open toe shoes?”

        • TuuxKabin

          I showed up the Halloween after Gena Rowlands “Gloria” – dressed as Gloria. My wig had been lost a long the way, the sensible suit I was wearing looked a bit ‘fem, but also sporty cut. One of the patrons grabbed me by the crotch, pulled me up against him and asked, “what? We’re you in drag earlier?”


          We ended up drinking pals for the night.

        • madknits

          A friend of mine worked as the doorman to the back room of the Ramrod in Boston when it was a leather bar. People who wear open toe shoes in a very dark space where most of the men are wearing boots are in danger of getting their toes and feet stepped on or stomped (by accident or on purpose). The bars don’t want the lawsuits.

      • Ann Kah

        But…but…they’re in the New York uniform. They re wearing black!

        • TuuxKabin

          And we’ll continue wearing black until a darker color comes along.

    • Nowhereman

      They do know that that repealing the law doesn’t mean that they HAVE to dance, don’t they? It’s like gay marriage. Just because gay people can now get married, that doesn’t mean that straight people have to get gay-married.

    • BobSF_94117

      What’s with that guy in the flashy suit? Who does he think he is?

  • Tulle Christensen

    Ah memories, I remember being admonished back in the mid 90s at a bar in Manhattan for just swaying a bit to the music

  • DaddyRay
  • Talisman


    No dancing?

    • clay

      “Welcome to Lehi, Utah, sight of the the movie “Footloose”, conveniently located on the Hudson and East Rivers.”

  • TuuxKabin

    Finally, thanks all giver gods and goddesses.

    And salutaciones para todos los santos días / dia de los muertos:

    • clay

      Loved her voice and how well it’s blended with the back-up and accordion, and results for zombie Trump.

      • TuuxKabin
        • sfbob

          I seem to have gotten something in my eye.

          • TuuxKabin

            Come sit by me. We’ll listen to more and get those damn things out of one another’s eye. Hugs.

          • sfbob

            What a lovely idea.

            How strange that I got notification of your reply two days after you posted it. I blame our alleged president.

          • TuuxKabin

            Ha! That mofo. Secondary. I blame NYCMTA foremost and always. I watched la Bamba thru again. It IS enduring as well as endearing. I could use some live music. Feeling restless.

  • TheGrandWazoo2


    • TuuxKabin

      Get on up and get down.

  • greenmanTN

    OT- Famous authors react to your unsolicited dick pics.


    There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting a dick pic, and the other is getting yours.

  • Sam_Handwich

    Is Don’t Tell Mama an unofficial gay bar?

    • TuuxKabin

      Not gonna tell.

  • narutomania

    I have never been able to understand such laws. I mean, a ban on “dancing”? It sounds like the premise of some dystopian film.

    People should just say, “I wasn’t dancing. That’s how I walk. I have ______ (fill in the blank with whatever physical condition you want).

  • Guest
  • zherazhera

    How ridiculous! Shame on NY for leaving that law in place for so long.

  • Avenger280

    “You can dance if you want to
    You can leave your friends behind
    ‘Cause your friends don’t dance
    And if they don’t dance, well they’re
    No friends of mine…..”

  • TheManicMechanic

    It’d be nice these days to occasionally leave our cares behind…

    • clay

      … and go DOWN-TOWN.

      (sorry, that just slipped out)

  • David L. Caster

    I think this is great. Way overdue.

  • CubbyPQ

    Marie’s Crisis. We were there a couple months ago and danced a bit, then got lectured by several patrons about the no-dancing law. Thought it was some kind of joke until we Googled it. Glad to see they’re repealing the silly law.

  • Natty Enquirer

    Right this way, your dance floor’s waiting.

  • Hank
    • easygoingmister

      I always thought there should be formal instruction in Mama Cass footwork at dance schools.

    • Today Mama Cass couldn’t get a record contract. Adele gets all sorts of hate for her weight. As does that country music girl that won the singing show. Sad, isn’t it?

      • BobSF_94117

        Our loss.

  • BlindBill

    Now NY needs to eliminate those silly religion based blue laws

  • AdamTh

    BREAKING! — AG Jeff Sessions just announced the DOJ will fight to keep the ban in place.

    Just kiddding — but it really wouldn’t surprise me if it did happen.

  • kcken

    So, Footloose was actually about NYC ? 🙂

  • sfbob

    Finally! That law was such a nuisance when I was young and just coming out.

  • Jake Stevens

    Can I just comment how cute our city council members are? Why yes I can.

  • Alternative Facts
  • The Sentinel

    ROXY, Mudd Club, Danceteria…

  • Pluto Animus

    So the law was passed to prevent white girls from getting some black dick.

    Is there any part of American history that is NOT tainted by racism?

  • JCF
  • Lindoro Almaviva

    The important question is who is that bearded thing, is he single and where do i sign up to dance him to my bed

  • William Hamilton

    I am always amused that the citizens of NYC allow their stinking politicians to lord over them as if they were retarded. If only ten percent of you would get off your asses and storm city hall, just once, you could take back your lives. You could put a stop of all of the $100 summonses for “not sweeping your sidewalk”, and all of the thousands of petty parking tickets handed out every day as a way of collecting tax revenue. Just ten percent of you is almost two million people. Stop being herded around like sheeple. Just when is enough, enough? For nearly a century the city government told you that you could not dance unless someone got a “payoff.” Really? And you just sit there and take that shit?